Making the Right Choice
1. What way of life would be truly satisfying?
A LIFE with true meaning—how satisfying that can be! And especially if it holds promise of a secure and happy future. Can we personally choose such a way of life? There is sound reason for believing that we can.
2. With reference to life, why is there an urgency about making the right choice?
2 It is essential, however, to make that choice without delay. For one thing, our human life-span covers at most only a few decades, and it holds many uncertainties. Who can count on being able to spend many years trying out first this approach to life and then that one, hoping eventually to find the best way? Choices made may seem good—at the time. But how often do we hear it said: ‘If I could only do it all over again’? Not only this, but there is reason to believe that time is limited for the human race as a whole to find the way to make the right choice.
HELP IN FINDING THE WAY
3. Who can tell us about what makes life really meaningful, and why?
3 The question is, then, who can tell us just what will make our life really meaningful? Who can point us to a way that will result in no regrets, one that definitely assures a happy, secure future? Logically, should it not be the One who made mankind? Certainly our Creator knows the way of life that is best for us. And he reveals this to us in his inspired Word. But he does not force us to adopt it. Rather, he warmly appeals to people of all races to make a wise choice.
4. How has the Creator encouraged humans to make a wise choice respecting their life?
4 Centuries ago, he began using devoted, unselfish men and women to make this appeal. His own example in generously providing all that is needed for life adds force to his entreaty. God is truly interested in us—all of us—and is ready to help us. This was made clear in these inspired words of the apostle Paul directed to people in ancient Athens:
“The God that made the world and all the things in it, being, as this One is, Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in handmade temples, neither is he attended to by human hands as if he needed anything, because he himself gives to all persons life and breath and all things. And he made out of one man every nation of men . . . for them to seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us. For by him we have life and move and exist, even as certain ones of the poets among you have said, ‘For we are also his progeny.’”—Acts 17:24-28.
5, 6. What choices have been set before mankind?
5 As the “offspring” of our Creator, what choice do we all face? The continuing words of the inspired address point to it, saying:
“Seeing, therefore, that we are the progeny of God, we ought not to imagine that the Divine Being is like gold or silver or stone, like something sculptured by the art and contrivance of man. True, God has overlooked the times of such ignorance, yet now he is telling mankind that they should all everywhere repent. Because he has set a day in which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and he has furnished a guarantee to all men in that he has resurrected him from the dead.” (Acts 17:29-31)
In harmony with this, there basically are just two choices: People can choose to turn to the Most High and submit to his will; or they can choose to continue living a life that ignores him and his guidelines for happy living. What would our turning to God include?
6 Most importantly, it includes accepting the one through whom he “purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness.” This is his own Son who, on earth, bore the name of Jesus. (John 5:22, 27) Why him? Because humankind is undeniably in bondage, in enslavement to imperfection, sin and death, and this one proved to be the long-awaited Messiah or Christ through whom the Most High purposes to bring freedom from that enslavement.—Isaiah 53:7-12.
7. How is Jesus Christ involved in a person’s choosing the best way of life?
7 Here is what the Bible account shows: In the spring of 33 C.E., Jesus died on an executional stake. His death provided the needed sacrifice to atone for our sins. (1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 2:2) Forty days after being raised from the dead, he ascended to the heavens, there to present the value of his sacrifice to the Father. From then on, mankind everywhere needed to learn that freedom from sin and death could be gained only by accepting Jesus as God’s appointed Savior. “There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.” (Acts 4:12) Hence, the desirable course of life is that which gains for us an approved standing with God as followers of his Son, yes, as genuine Christians.
THE BENEFITS THAT COME FROM SUCH A LIFE
8. Why does a person’s professing to be a Christian not necessarily mean that he has found the best way of life?
8 Hundreds of millions today claim to be Christians. Does this mean that they have found the best way of life? No, for the mere profession of being Christian does not guarantee such a life. In fact, Jesus said that many would claim him as their Lord but that he would say to them: “I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:23) If we profess to be Christians, we have good reason to examine whether we genuinely conform to the example and teaching of God’s Son. This gives rise to the question, What should we expect to see about the way in which genuine Christians live that makes it the best course of life even now? The answer to this question is basic in determining what group among the many professed believers in Jesus Christ represents his true congregation.
9. What quality identifies the true Christian congregation, and how is this quality expressed?
9 The Son of God said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) The true Christian congregation, therefore, must be an international brotherhood, free from racial, national, tribal, social and economic barriers. In that brotherhood, wherever we may go on earth, we should be able to find loyal friends, persons in whom we can confide and to whom we can entrust our belongings. Though not even being acquainted with us personally, they would show greater concern and affection for us than many of our own relatives would. (Mark 10:29, 30) To millions of professing Christians, it may sound unbelievable that such an international brotherhood exists. But many thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses can testify to the fact that they have experienced true brotherly affection.
10. How does copying the example of Jesus Christ contribute to our enjoying good relations with others?
10 Who would not agree that enjoying good relations also with family members, neighbors and fellow workers contributes tremendously to our personal happiness? Jesus Christ lived and taught the way of love. This way builds good relations with others, for “love does not work evil to one’s neighbor.” (Romans 13:8-10) Then, too, when we treat others with kindness, compassion and love, we make it easier for them to display those desirable qualities toward us.
11. How do the Bible’s guidelines protect us from harming ourselves?
11 Bible guidelines can shield us from harming ourselves. Surely we should expect this from the best way of life. Following the Bible’s moral standards protects us from the emotional hurts and fears that inevitably accompany illicit relationships. (Proverbs 5:3-11, 18; Matthew 5:27, 28; Hebrews 13:4) Living as devoted disciples of Jesus Christ gives us the needed strength to stay away from heavy drinking, overeating, drug abuse, gambling and other vices. (Proverbs 23:29, 30; Isaiah 65:11; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Corinthians 7:1) Resources formerly wasted on such habits can be used to benefit others, resulting in our experiencing the superior happiness that comes from wholehearted giving. (Acts 20:35) Following the Bible’s counsel to avoid bitter resentment and envy actually promotes better health.—Psalm 37:1-5; Proverbs 14:30.
12. Despite our imperfections, how can we continue to have a clean conscience?
12 All of us, of course, at one time or another fall short of being the kind of person we would like to be. Either in word or in deed, we may hurt others. The fact that we are imperfect humans is painfully brought home to us. Yet, when we humbly ask God for forgiveness, he grants this to us on the basis of our heartfelt sorrow and our faith in the atoning benefits of Jesus’ sacrifice. (1 John 2:1, 2) That is why we can continue to enjoy a clean conscience. We do not fear to approach God for help with any matter, confident that he will, by means of his spirit, aid us in dealing successfully with our problems and trials.—1 John 3:19-22.
13. What is the situation of those who have little regard for the Creator’s Word?
13 What of persons who choose to live a life that shows little concern for the Creator’s Word? They bear their problems and afflictions alone. Aside from the possibility of enjoying a few years of life now, they have no real hope for the future. As death approaches, they often experience a fearful expectation of possible punishment from a higher power.
14. To what event do genuine disciples of Jesus Christ look forward with keen anticipation?
14 How different it is with genuine disciples of Jesus Christ! They do not fear a future day of reckoning. Rather, with eager anticipation, they look forward to Jesus Christ’s coming in glory as a victorious king who will deliver them from all injustices and oppression and then extend his rule to every part of the earth. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; Revelation 19:11-16; compare Psalm 72:8.) Yes, a grand future lies ahead. What will then be enjoyed?
A SUPERIOR HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
15, 16. What glorious future is in store for faithful servants of God?
15 The Bible answers: “There are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” (2 Peter 3:13) “[God] will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) Not even death can prevent the realization of this future, for the Creator of life can also resurrect the dead. And he will do so by means of his Son.—John 5:28, 29.
16 What can the fulfillment of the divine promises mean for you? Think of living under the flawless rulership of Jesus Christ among persons who genuinely care for you, who gladly put your interests ahead of their own. With all obeying the supreme law of love, there will be no crime, no injustice, no oppression. You will disappoint neither yourself nor others. Mental anguish over uncertainties or grave dangers will be unknown. The depression, emptiness and loneliness that have made life bitter for millions will be no more. The groaning due to great physical pain will never be heard. Tears of sorrow will not fill the eyes of anyone. Not even death will harm you, cutting short your activities or tearing loved ones away from you.—Isaiah 25:6-8; 65:17.
17. Why is the life of those who make no room for the Creator not truly meaningful?
17 Contrast this with what people have who, even though not being morally corrupt, make no room for the Creator in their lives. They may have the honor and the material possessions that they desire, perhaps find a measure of satisfaction in helping the needy and enjoy cultural activities and wholesome pleasures. Yet, they must admit the inescapable fact that nothing in this world has any real permanence. No one is immune to accidents, disease or death. Possessions will neither protect against these things nor can they be taken along when life ends. (Psalm 49:6-20; Ecclesiastes 5:13-15; 8:8) Well-meaning efforts to help fellow humans may come to frustration because of unfavorable circumstances. So it might well be asked: How meaningful can a life be if the ultimate future it offers is just the grave? How can it be good if it actually works against a person’s eternal future?—Compare Ecclesiastes 1:11, 15, 18; 2:10, 11; 9:11, 12.
A TIME FOR CHOOSING
18. (a) Why should we not delay in making the right choice respecting our life? (b) How is our position like that of the patriarch Noah?
18 Especially since there is to be a day of reckoning, it is imperative for people everywhere to choose a way of life that will bring rewards, not condemnation. There is an urgency about making this choice. We do not know what tomorrow may bring. Additionally, the coming of Jesus Christ to extend his royal rule over the whole earth is drawing ever closer. The position of mankind is like that of the patriarch Noah in the days before the global deluge. He had two choices: (1) adopting the lawless ways of his contemporaries or (2) submitting to God’s will. Happily, Noah made the right choice. He built an ark and, with seven members of his family, entered it at divine direction. These eight members of the human family survived the flood, and that is why we are alive today.—1 Peter 3:20.
19. What does 1 Peter 3:21, 22 reveal about salvation?
19 Similarly, for us, one of the requirements for gaining everlasting life is to make a commitment to serve Jehovah God as disciples of Jesus Christ. Just as there was no salvation outside the ark, for us there is no salvation apart from God’s provision through his Son, Jesus Christ. After referring to the deliverance experienced by the eight humans in the ark, the Christian apostle Peter wrote:
“That which corresponds to this is also now saving you, namely, baptism, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the request made to God for a good conscience,) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is at God’s right hand, for he went his way to heaven; and angels and authorities and powers were made subject to him.”—1 Peter 3:21, 22.
20. What shows that water baptism alone is not enough for one to gain everlasting life?
20 It is not water baptism alone that results in salvation. While water can wash away filth or dirt, it is “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh” by a solemn external washing that saves. Note that Peter said that salvation is “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Hence, the individual who is baptized needs to acknowledge that everlasting life is only possible because the Son of God died a sacrificial death, was resurrected on the third day and finally was exalted to the right hand of God.—Romans 10:9, 10.
21. How does a person get a “good conscience”?
21 Furthermore, the apostle Peter put the emphasis on a “request made to God for a good conscience.” To come into possession of such a good conscience, all who wish to get baptized first need to repent of their past wrongdoing, exercise faith in God’s provision for everlasting life, turn around from a bad course and dedicate or commit themselves fully to the doing of the divine will. Baptism is the public symbol of this inward resolve. After following through on what Jehovah God now requires, the baptized disciple comes into possession of a good conscience. As long as he maintains that good conscience he is in a saved condition. God’s adverse judgment will not be expressed against him.—Compare Acts 2:38-40; 3:19; 10:34-48.
22. How can we benefit from the two inspired letters of the apostle Peter?
22 The sooner persons choose this superior way of life, the sooner they will begin to reap its benefits. Once the choice is made to conform to God’s will and submit to water baptism in symbol of our commitment or dedication, we certainly want to stick faithfully to that decision. But what will help us to continue choosing to pursue this way of life? How can we resist the influences that could result in our losing out on the present and future blessings associated with being genuine disciples of God’s Son? Long ago, the inspired apostle Peter provided excellent answers to these questions. His two letters constitute the basis for what is presented in this publication. It is hoped that, by our examining these letters, we will be encouraged to embrace the best way of life as servants of God and to keep on enjoying this course of life in fuller measure.
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